According to an article published by Politico on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) has vowed to use the next defense policy bill to move Space Command (SPACECOM) to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville where it was initially planned to go until President Joe Biden reversed the Trump administration's decision in favor of Colorado.
In July, Rogers requested an investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Pentagon Inspector General (IG) to investigate the basing process for SPACECOM after Biden decided not to set up in Huntsville.
In his statement to Politico, Rogers said that once the investigation is complete, it will prove Biden "politically manipulated" the process.
"We've got two paths, both of which are good." Rogers said, "One, the IG can come back and say what we know they're gonna say, which justifies us going forward with building in Huntsville."
He added, "And if that does not happen, Trump's going to be there. He's going to enforce what the Secretary of the Air Force said under his administration and the Secretary of the Air Force said under the Biden administration. ... That is, Huntsville won the competition... and that's where it should be, and that's where he is going to build it."
Alabama and Colorado congressional delegations have traded accusations that both former President Donald Trump and Biden made their decision to reward a state that voted for them in the presidential election.
Biden's Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told several Alabama lawmakers he supported sticking with the Trump-era move to Huntsville. However, he was instructed to review the basing decision and was eventually told Biden would make the final call.
Alabama's delegation repeatedly pointed out that Huntsville outscored Colorado in the basing criteria by coming in first after multiple reviews, while Colorado came in sixth.
Rogers and U.S. Rep. Dale Strong (R-Monrovia) fought and won to insert language in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would prevent SPACECOM from making Colorado its permanent home until after June 2024, when the IG and GAO have finished their reviews into Biden's decision.
U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) agreed with Rogers and Strong on this issue and worked closely to ensure the amendment preventing the permanent HQ from being established in Colorado stayed in the final version of the FY24 NDAA.
According to Politico, members of the Colorado congressional delegation contend that moving the HQ across the country is needlessly expensive and disruptive.
However, in a previous statement to 1819 News, Rogers said making Colorado Springs the permanent HQ would cost an additional $426 million versus Redstone.
SPACECOM Commander Gen. James Dickinson declared the unit fully operational the day after the NDAA passed, something Rogers called "Political gamesmanship."
Dickinson has come under fire many times before when discussing the infrastructure, skilled workforce and readiness in Colorado Springs.
Responding to Dickinson, Strong told 1819 News, "If General Dickinson believes 'full operational capability' has been met with Space Command Headquarters operating out of four buildings across Colorado Springs that lack force protection, he is fooling himself."
Additionally, military leadership, including Dickinson, testified before the House Armed Services Committee that moving from Colorado to Redstone would not negatively impact readiness for the command.
In addition to the claimed political aspect from the Biden administration. U.S. Sen. Katie Britt (R-Montgomery) released records showing that Dickinson had purchased a $1.5 million home with 20 acres of property while the issue was still supposedly in ongoing debate.
Politico pointed out that Alabama's Congressional delegation wields many of the major levers of power in the House and the Senate. Alabama has two seats on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, with U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) and U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile), while Colorado has none. In addition, Rogers is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, of which Strong is also a member.
In the Senate, Britt sits on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, Tuberville sits on the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, and no Colorado senators sit on either panel.
In a statement to Politico, Britt said, "The Alabama delegation is going to use every legislative lever at our disposal to expose and correct President Biden's politically-motivated, reckless Space Command headquarters basing decision," Britt added. "The appropriations process will continue to be a priority of mine as we work together — in a bicameral and bipartisan fashion — to ensure that Space Command HQ ultimately comes to its rightful home in Alabama."
The 2024 re-match between Trump and Biden will play a significant part in the finale of this process. If Trump prevails, he can immediately reassert his decision before leaving office, putting SPACECOM HQ in Huntsville.
In Rogers' statement to Politico, he was confident in a Trump victory next fall, saying, "Biden just pulled a political move to help him in next year's election."
He added, "[B]ut he's not going to be president after November."
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